While in the middle of his two-month tour, bluesy rock-folk musician G. Love took a break to chat with Simple about his February released and 11th album, "Fixin' To Die. Here, the Brushfire Records artist talks about flipping covers like Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" and Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes," recording 20-year-old songs he scribed as a teenager (he wrote his first song at nine, technically), collaborating for the first time with the banjo-slick Avett Brothers and how he got engaged on Halloween.
You're touring in Florida now, where are you off to next?
We're in Orlando, St. Petersburg to Fort Bragg and then we go to New Orleans. In April we'll hit California and tour all the way up the coast, San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles (they'll play the House of Blues), San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, San Francisco to Sacramento.
We play a lot of hits from the record. One of the challenges for the tour is going to be figuring out how to play the hits and bluesy stuff cohesively.
Tell me about the process behind producing this album.
I call it a second chance to make a first record—the stuff you hear on the album is what I was doing at the beginning. This is the record I would have made going back to the original music I used to make – it's a record that's truly 20 years in the making. And it was great to have a record company interested in producing something like that.
There are songs on this album that you wrote years ago?
Yeah, I have songs on this album that I have been writing for 20 years. I have 20 books of songs I've collected over the years. I've been playing this or that song for 20 years and [after this recording] it's like I have never heard it like that before. I felt so connected to the songs; it was personal stuff I wrote as a teenager about my dog, grandma, to writing about my fiancée.
Two of the oldest songs on the album are "Get Goin'" and "Walk On" – I was 15 years old when I wrote them. I feel like if you have some basic chords and you got some words to say you can make a hit song. If you're still singing a song 20 years after you wrote it, it's a pretty good indication that it's a good song.
How did the partnership with Scott and Seth (The Avett Brothers) shape this record?
To be able to share that great energy on this album with The Avett Brothers, who are crushing it right now—that was not lost on me. Those guys are multi instrumentalists and clear-visioned writers and musicians. They inspired me.
What was recording like with those guys?
Some days we'd be sitting in a circle, just playing and mikes would go up and we're start recording. It was a good formula. Everyday in the studio I couldn't believe how good it was going, I kept thinking, "Wow this [track] was even better than the last one." We had a lot to relate to musically.
Not only was it my favorite recording session, it was positive, emotional and fun – it was one of the best weeks of my life, we got along so well, recording in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Tennessee.
Everything has a flavor on it; I thought it was honest and good, nothing fancy about it or over produced, it has a raw, minimalist approach. It's one of the best records of my career.
What's it like playing live with those songs you wrote decades ago?
That’s one of the most beautiful things about what I do: sharing those personal moments and letting others experience them. Hearing people singing along words about something that happened in my life so long ago ... nothing can compare to that. But I never take any show for granted, I have mad respect for the stage and I want people to come away feeling good.
We're curious, how did you transition from Garrett to G. Love?
For me, it was the influence of stage names: Q Tip, Muddy Waters, etc., everyone I was interested in had a stage name. I didn't feel like my name would get it done, I played around with names like G. Spot, Crazy G, and finally made G. Love official in 1992 around the time I met my drummer. A little bit of love never hurts.
You just engaged … on Halloween?
Yeah, it's my girlfriend's favorite holiday, it kind of worked out that day since it was our first day in Paris and we were at the Eiffel Tower. She wasn't expecting it and couldn't figure out what I was doing on one knee (laughing).
Elements of discovery abound in the City of Angels. Unfortunately, many of us spend far too much time in our cars isolated from surprises waiting around every corner. It takes diligent effort to get out of our comfort zones to uncover those hidden gems for libation, a new eatery or retail location.
For those privy to the old spot occupied by Mohawk General Store, all it took was a move on the map to draw added attention to this destination shop. Carefully curated, one-off jewelry from local designers, hand-made apparel, imported candles and vintage audio equipment all sit perched amongst Mohawk’s most prized assets—modern furniture. Should you choose to get off the beaten path and find yourself in Silverlake, you won’t get flea market finds here but rather coveted pieces from across the pond. Trust us, it’s worth the journey.
Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons (Scar from Disney's "The Lion King") lends his voice as narrator to the recently released National Geographic film, The Last Lions. The story follows mother lion Ma de Tau ("Mother of lions") as she survives to protect her cubs amid Botswana's unforgiving wildlife, including a fire and cub-eating crocodiles.
While a well-told film, in reality, Africa's lions are disappearing fast. In just the last 50 years, the lion population has plummeted from 450,000 to 20,000, according to National Geographic.
Aside from catching the movie, which was released in theatres in February, a major way you can contribute to the lion conservation movement is by clicking on this YouTube link and watching the trailer. For every single view, National Geographic contributes 10 cents to the Lion Conservation and Big Cat Reservation in Botswana. They'll do this until they hit 1 million views—$100,000.
At present, the video has only racked up 182,297 views, so get clicking and contribute to our big cats today.
Without the likes of Chuck Allen, the surfing community might not have ever discarded that "drop-out beach bum image." Long celebrated since the 1970s as the sport figure that helped civilize generations of surfers and snowboarders, Allen, brought organization and regulation to what was, at one time, considered a riotous and fledgling sport, decades back.
Allen once described to The Los Angeles Times, "I'd never come across a sport that needed so much help; Surfing had a bad image, and a lot of kids who got involved in surfing tried to live up to that."
Hailing from Oklahoma, Allen used to ride in rodeos until he migrated to Huntington Beach where he rode waves and taught high school surf teams. Among close friends, he was known as the "Cowboy Surfer."
In a time when many resorts banned snowboarding, Allen pushed to establish the sport, founding the United States of America Snowboard Association in 1988. In the late 1970s, he also helped establish the National Scholastic Surfing Association.
The father of 11 lived out the last of his years working as special events manager at the Mountain High resort.
Whether by happenstance or not, the much-adored 74-year-old and well-respected surf coach passed away on Valentine's Day, February 14. He died of emphysema.
A commemorative celebration for Allen will be held in June at the NSSA Nationals at the beach he taught and surfed, Huntington Beach.
Photo courtesy of Surfingwalkoffame.com.
We’re big fans of random things in unlikely places. From Prada Marfa, to artist JR’s massive installations adorning the rooftops of Brazilian favelas, disrupting the social milieu is sometimes the only way to say “Stop. Look. Listen.” The purveyors of Saturday’s surf shop understand this better than any Manhattan-based retailer dedicated to wave riding. Perched in the middle of Manhattan’s trendy SOHO district, Saturdays serves as a bastion for boards, coffee and apparel in a city better known for pounding the pavement than hanging heals.
It happens every day, and in hotels across the country. It's a dirty, little secret that the hospitality industry is hoping to clean up soon. And with the help of Shawn Seipler and Paul Till of Clean the World, that goal is inching closer … one secondhand sudsy bar at a time.
Started in 2009, Clean the World aims to collect and recycle leftover soap and shampoo--every color and sort of soapy scraps which would normally be discarded, post guests. Siepler and Till came up with the idea of upcycling soap into reusable form after seeing how preventable illnesses were with just soap. Why toss something out when it could be put to preventable use in impoverished places and homeless shelters?
Soap is rigorously sanitized through one of two ways: re-batching (cooked to remove impurities) and soap sanitization (steam/pressure sanitizing). Both processes remove E. coli, Salmonella typhymurium to Staphylococcus aureus, among other pathogens.
To date, the Florida-based organization has distributed more than seven million soap bars in the United States, Haiti and 40 other countries, and eliminated over 340 tons of waste.
So I guess mother was right after all; hand washing is necessary and saves you from diseases, which, according to the Associated Press, span from acute respiratory infection, pneumonia to diarrhea. These hygiene-related illnesses—all preventable by soap—indirectly cause 5 million deaths (of that 3.5 million are kids under age 5) around the world, annually. This number exceeds deaths caused by HIV and malaria combined.
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons.
Following Los Angeles' shower of a weekend in February, a friend and I decided to brave the 50-degree weather (that's 20 degrees for west coasters) and take a hike. For that task, our "brave soles" ventured not to the San Gabriel Valley or Santa Monica mountains but the streets of Los Angeles, where unbeknownst to this Simple blogger, a labyrinthine of staircases and urban trails lay ready for the eager city hiker.
Our hiking companion included a copy of L.A. author Charles Fleming's book, "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles," in which it's described he alleviated back pain (and avoided back surgery) by climbing public stairs. Being hiker enthusiasts ourselves, we reached out to Fleming to discuss how he moved beyond physical injuries while discovering the more than 400 stairways of L.A.—including the property where William Faulkner penned "To Have and Have Not."
You call walking a miracle cure for your back injury?
Walking was my cure for my back problems. After two surgeries and another planned, I was a mess. I couldn't work. I couldn't drive a car. I'd had to give up tennis, motorcycling and almost everything else. But walking helped a little with my pain. So I started walking -- two blocks, on flat ground, to start, and gradually building up. In a month I was walking a half mile. In two months I was walking the hills. Gradually I started getting obsessed with the stairs. The book is the result of that obsession. And, without undergoing the third surgery, I have been more or less pain free ever since, provided I keep walking regularly. I returned to tennis, and motorcycling, and took up snowboarding, which is my new obsession.
In your book you chronicle 275 stairways from Pacific Palisades to Pasadena but there are approx. 400 in L.A.?
There may be as many as 500 public staircases in LA. But some are locked, some are unsafe, and some are so far from other staircases that I couldn't find a way to link them into sensible stairwalks. I had to leave those out.
How many miles did you walk to compile the book?
I walked many many hundreds of miles, discovering the stairs, familiarizing myself with the stairs, and then finally decided to create the walks, and mapping them, and testing them, and retesting them. If the 42 walks in the book have an average of two-three miles each, I'm sure I walked 600 miles just in the preparation of the book -- plus several hundred more before I even decided to write the book in the first place.
In the book you talk a lot about historical areas. Any mentionables?
I was thrilled to discover that Anais Nin had spent the last part of her life near me in Silver Lake, and that Raymond Chandler had lived nearby too. I had known about William Faulker living in an apartment building on Highland, in Hollywood, but not that he'd had a house nearby. I had never known that John Philip Sousa was a frequent guest in a house in Highland Park. It turns out that old LA, where the stairs are, is full of historical interest. My fascination with the stairs just led me to these amazing places.
How can we get more information about taking one of your monthly stairway tours?
We walk on the first Sunday of the month. The walks are open to everyone. Visit the stairs website at www.secretstairs-la.com and look for the button on the "Walks" page that says "Secret Stairmaster."
What are some of the benefits of "hiking" in L.A.'s urban landscape?
Walking the stairs gave me a look at a backyard LA that I never knew existed, even though I'd lived in some of these neighborhoods for decades. Moving slowly makes discovering things easier. Plus, the staircases go places that roads and freeways don't go. The peaks of Happy Valley, for example, offer some views of downtown LA that rival anything I've ever seen, but if I'd had to get there by car I'd never have seen them.
How often do you walk in L.A. today?
Three or four times a week. Last weekend I wandered around Fellowship Parkway in Echo Park with some out of town guests. The weekend before, I went into Happy Valley to get a look at the snow-capped hills. I walk all over Silver Lake -- to the barbershop, to the cafe, out to lunch or dinner, or to a friend's house. It's a point of honor, now. I have to. I'm the stairmaster.
How does your walking translate into the Simple life?
I suffer from the tragic modern flaw of multi-tasking -- on the phone, answering emails, reading news stories and listening to music. While enjoying a coffee, and trying to keep an eye on the oncoming traffic, because I'm doing all this while driving. Walking is somehow less conducive, for me, to the over-busy lifestyle. When I'm walking, I don't talk on the phone. I don't text, or read, or eat, or drink. (Although almost all my Secret Stairs walks begin and end at cafes.) When I walk, I walk, and I look, and I think deep thoughts. My goal for 2011 is to eliminate the last part.
The Simple Shoes Spring line is here. Check out our most recent photo shoot featuring Simple artist Tyler Warren in Santa Barbara.
Photographer Todd Selby has made quite a name for himself shooting the living spaces of fashion elite, do-gooders and engaging entrepreneurs. His images not only provide a monocle focused on the idiosyncrasies of every day life but also influence an audience who understand that the devil is in the details. Last year, Selby focused his lens on the prolific purveyor of New York’s Rockaway Taco. It’s a true testament to what happens when you embrace a community and fuel the fire of the DIY spirit.